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Mary Clitherow's Letter
Some background to Mary Clitherow’s letter about the royal visit of King William IV and Queen Adelaide to Boston Manor on June 23rd 1834.
James Clitherow (IV) became a friend of William Duke of Clarence, the third son of George III.  I’ve not found out how or where they met yet.
William was known as ‘Silly Billy’ by his family and was in the navy aged 13.  I think I read that he was in the West Indies when Horatio Nelson got married and was his best man.  He seems to have been honest and unsophisticated.
He lived at Bushey Park with Mrs Dora Jordan the actress for many years.  She carried on acting through any number of pregnancies and financed the household.  They had 10 children who had the surname Fitzclarence.  After the death of the Prince of Wales (later George IV’s) daughter in childbirth there was no legitimate heir to the throne so the Royal princes were forced, by their mother, to marry.  (The only heir to result was Victoria).  Mrs Jordan was sent away and died destitute in France.
William married Princess Adelaide of Saxe-Coburg-Meiningen in 1818 and I suspect it’s after this that they became friendly with the Clitherows.  William and Adelaide had several children that all died within a few hours of their birth.  James and Jane Clitherow had no children.
William inherited the throne from his brother, George IV in 1830.  He had a low key Coronation not wanting the elaboration and expense as when his brother was crowned.  The Clitherows were invited and Colonel Clitherow’s invitation is displayed in the house.  From then on they were regularly invited to visit William and Adelaide at St James’s, Brighton and Windsor Castle.  James’ elder sister, Mary was also included in the invitations and they became known as ‘The Boston House Trio’.
The book ‘Glimpses of William IV and Queen Adelaide’ in the Local Studies Department of Chiswick Library contains the description of the dinner given at Boston House.  Another letter written by Mary Clitherow describes how one evening at St James’s the king had so many documents to sign (George IV had not dealt with State business) he had to keep resting his hand in iced water.  Another how the Queen gave James a silver medallion with her picture on and gave Jane an amethyst bracelet saying that the A for amethyst was to remind her of Adelaide.  The medallion was in the list of items sold in the 1920s and the bracelet was left to once of James’ younger sisters when he died.

William’s personal friends were apparently not self seeking or sycophantic as they seem to have found many of their courtiers and his Fitzclarence children.  Mary says in a letter ‘Jane’s honest manner and sound judgement, which she ventures to express to Her Majesty, makes her such a favourite.  We do not court them and have never asked the slightest favour.’

In 1833 they were the only untitled people at the Queen’s birthday party.  The King apparently sent for James to visit him at Windsor only a few days before he died ‘for the pleasure of seeing him and conversing freely’.
During William’s reign of only 7 years the Queen was in dread of revolution.  There were a number of important developments during the period though.  The Reform Bill was passed.  Slavery was abolished.  Factory Acts, a new Poor Law and the Tithe Commutation Acts were passed.  The province of South Australia was established and the capital named after the Queen.
James Clitherow had inherited the estate in 1805 and he died in 1841.  He was described as ‘A high minded, accomplished, conscientious, English gentleman.  Always in public life, maintaining institutions of the county and trying to better the conditions of the working classes.’  He had married Jane Snow of Langdon, Dorset in 1795 and died in 1841.  Jane and his sister Mary continued to live in Boston House and they both died in 1847.
On June 23rd 1834 the King and Queen went to Boston House to dine with the Clitherows – an unusual honour as royalty rarely visited commoners.  They were accompanied by Princess Augusta, the King’s sister and it seems that this might not have been their first visit.
Paragraph 2 – Brentford, at the time was full of smelly industry.  Gas works, breweries, soap works, tanneries etc.  The recommended route must have been along what is now the North Circular, turning west north of the Gunnersbury estate, through Little Ealing and going through the Clitherow’s farm as there was no Swyncombe Avenue at the time.  The farm house was just north of the Swyncombe Avenue turning on Boston Road (Boston Farm).

Paragraph 3 – Haven’t found out about Dr Morris’s school but I think it was very local.  (Could it have been Great Ealing School?  Dr Nicholas was head in 1815 but may have retired or moved on).  On an old map the hay field shows it down the slope below the motorway.

Paragraph 4 – The Queen made a point of wearing British manufactured clothes and encouraged others to do so to help provide employment in this country.
Paragraph 5 – The library was the room at the back on the ground floor.


  • The Duchess of Northumberland was from Syon House and the wife of Hugh the 3rd Duke.
  • Lord Prudhoe was the heir to the Dukedom.
  • General Clitherow was James’s cousin and inherited the estate in 1847.  He had fought in the Napoleonic War in Egypt and the Peninsula War.
  • General Sir Edward Kerrison
  • Princess Augusta – the King’s sister.
  • Lord and Lady Howe
  • Lady Brownlow
  • Lady Clinton
  • Lady Isabella Wemyss (there was the wide of a General Wemyss living at Bushey Park in 1854.  The General had been equerry to Queen Victoria – same??)
  • Colonel Wemyss
  • Miss Clitherow – James’s sister who lived at Boston House
  • Miss Wynyard
  • Mrs Bullock – another of James’s sisters, married to The Rev. E. Bullock.  She inherited the amethyst bracelet and other family jewellery. Mrs Bullock was James and Mary’s sister Sarah.
  • Mr Holmes
  • The Duke of Cumberland who sent his apologies was the King’s younger brother.  He served in the English and Hanoverian armies, was a noted reactionary who voted against Catholic Emancipation and the Reform Bill and became Ernest I of Hanover. (Under Salic law Victoria could not inherit Hanover when she inherited the British Crown from her uncle William).

The sweep must have been what they called the drive going round the front lawn.

Horses and carriages must have come out of the stable yard, along the back of the lawn to be able to pick up passengers at the front door and drive round and straight out of the gate.

Nephew Salkeld was killed during the Indian Mutiny in 1857 when he volunteered to blow up the Cashmere Gate at Dehli.


Comparing values in 2000:

£1 in 1820 = £35.14.

£1 in 1840 = £37.43


(Background information kindly provided by Janet McNamara of Brentford & Chiswick Local History Society)